Woe continues to strike Newcastle United, it is not a quick death though. Instead, hemlock has been creeping up from its foundations for a decade or more.
I say this as a disclaimer, because although this article is principally about failings of this Newcastle team on the pitch, it is also very much related to all of the obvious issues off it (before anyone accuses me of ignoring the fact).
There are countless factors behind our position at the foot of the league table. A serious lack of pace, especially up front, is one of them.
Dwight Gayle was hardly a prolific striker in the top division and 6 goals from 35 games last season is a below-par return. Yet it is more than any of our current forwards will score this year.
Although our wingers are rapid runners, the players in front of them offer little to challenge the modern day defender.
As conventional target men, Joselu and Rondon can hold up the ball but are unable to provide outlets of play from running the wide channels or challenging an offside trap.
Perez sometimes offers this role from his deeper position but is only effective in his moments of good form.
Could some agility have unlocked the Brighton defence in the last home game?
The fact is that, without a swift-footed replacement on the bench, the question was irrelevant to Rafa either way.
Bournemouth have excelled for years with a clear identity of pacy attacking play, just as NUFC used to in the Robson/Keegan eras. Nevertheless, even less stable clubs such as Crystal Palace or Watford are using speed to their advantage.
Football is hardly rocket science at any level, yet nobody is learning the lesson within the St James Park boardroom.
Someone only half-decent like Andre Gray or Danny Ings could transform this Newcastle team. Of course, we already know why a player of their aptitude is not being bought to do that though – and January will no doubt repeat the same story.
Most frustrating of all is the sense of history reoccurring.
I wrote an article back in March 2016 complaining about the same one-paced approach. Just swap Mitrovic/Cisse for Rondon/Joselu and it is practically identical.
In 2016 we saw Newcastle United relegated.
At this rate, 2019 will see the hemlock continue to rise perilously further.